Golden Orb

Quentin Coldwater's page

***** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht 1,579 posts (5,361 including aliases). 123 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 38 Organized Play characters. 10 aliases.



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Great setting but structurally frustrating.

3/5

(I GMed this.)

I love the atmosphere of this scenario. The location, the art, the ambiance, it's all very evocative. Major bonus points for that.

There's four big downsides, though. First, since it's part of this year's metaplot, you really only get a slice of a story here. Without knowledge of the story that's gone before, you'll be completely lost. I feel like other scenarios do a better job of telling self-contained stories.

Second, even though you have free reign to explore the island, the adventure assumes you do things in a very particular order, and that order might not be immediately clear. I equated it to old point and click game logic, where you can't progress unless you use item F on object R to unlock door J, which is in another room altogether. Okay, it's not that bad here, but my players kept trying to do things that weren't possible at the time, despite it seeming plausible.

Third, combats feel bad, IMHO. In both tiers the enemies mostly consist of debuffers that just make combat miserable. One or two are okay, but if the entire enemy team consists of things that force saves, it's gonna be a slog. This is mostly due to CP scaling, where more players means more identical creatures get added.

My fourth complaint is technically a spoiler.

Complaint:
There's a mechanic/minigame to help you in combat, but it feels like it's either poorly balanced or just not helpful in the first place. My players barely made use of the "help," simply because their own actions were just plain better.

The scenario starts great and does some cool stuff, but it manages to sabotage itself in several ways, ensuring that I could not keep up the enthusiasm for long.


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Absolutely fantastic if your GM leans into the insanity.

4/5

(I GMed this for Monkhound below.)

This scenario lives or dies by its GM. I'm glad I managed to pull it off well. This is very much a spiritual successor to the Frostfur Captives form PF1. If you're familiar with that one, you know what you're going to get here.

A few minor complaints:
- The combats felt underwhelming. It didn't help that I rolled like crap, but the enemies in general felt unspectacular. In this tier I expect some interesting stuff from the enemies, but they're mostly just straightforward melee combatants.
- The same skills are being used throughout the scenario. There's usually a decent amount of options, but if you don't really have face skills, you'll be sitting a lot of this scenario out. A bigger variety of skills would've been nice, IMHO.
- From the GM's perspective, there's a LOT going on under the hood. Lots of modifiers being thrown around and information is all over the page.

I did really like the variety in situations this scenario throws at you. Tasks felt different from each other, and even combats had some nice twists to them. Definitely not a "clobber everything until it stops moving" kind of thing.

Definitely recommend this scenario, though depending on your GM, it could vary between two and five stars.


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Good scenario, but nothing super exciting IMHO.

3/5

(I both GMed and played this scenario.)

This is a good dungeon crawl. Nothing super exciting, but if you want to bash in skulls for a few hours, this is a good scenario to pick. But that's about it. There's a few skill checks to make things interesting, but there's barely any roleplaying to be done and narratively it falls a little flat. It has the typical "second part in a trilogy"-problem, where you have to build on what came before, but also need to set up the final(?) part, and therefore can't really stand on its own. There's a few cool setpieces here, but the conclusion fell a bit flat for me.

Behind the scenes, as a GM, everything's set up really well. No editing mistakes, everything is clear and the final boss has clear instructions on what to do. I like that. I hadn't heard of the author before, but if this is their first work, very well done! I've seen much worse.

All in all, it's a good scenario, but nothing really excites me about it. My players did agree it was a good dungeoncrawl, but I wish it had a little bit more pizzazz.


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Good romp, but can be frustrating at times.

3/5

(I played this, together with Sebastian below.)

This scenario feels like it's almost "there," but there's some elements that keep it back.
The setup is great, but once the cat is out of the bag, it's a standard straightforward adventure where most of the attention went into the setup, but not really the payoff.
The characters are definitely built more for style than for effectiveness. They also lacked a bit of synergy between them. The Rogue can debuff Reflex saves, but no other class targets Reflex with their spells or abilities. The spellcasters have questionable spells. They're serviceable, but I feel like they could've packed a little more oomph. Also, no Striking weapons really hurt, I feel. Especially with the final boss.
Two encounters feel out of whack. As mentioned, the lack of Striking weapons doesn't help, but the enemies feel unnecessarily tough compared to the casters. It was a real scramble here and there. Which is exciting, but can also make you feel hopeless.

Also, like Sebastian said, the Roll20 module had some errors in it that you need to look out for. Spells that have their damage output/DCs messed up can happen through importing, that I can forgive, but several feats were given to the wrong character, and some details were missing on the sheet entirely.

All in all, I'm not as harsh on it as the reviewer below me, but I do feel like this scenario could've been better.


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Good intro scenario. Does exactly as advertised.

3/5

(I GMed this.)

First of all, I must say that I don't agree with the reviewer below me. None of the enemies are scripted to start next to the players and all of the traps have Perception DCs. I think Kurald Galain's experience won't be the experience most people will have.

Other than that, it's a nice scenario. Nothing mind-blowing, but there's a nice variety of enemies, and the NPCs are fun to interact with.

No real complaints, other than that the adventure feels rather mediocre. Nothing wrong with that, just that in the end, it's not very memorable.


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A disjointed scenario.

3/5

(I GMed this.)

While prepping this, I had a constant feeling of weirdness. There's something off about this scenario, and I couldn't put my finger on it. After playing it, I think I know why. It features an old location and characters from the novels. In fact, this whole scenario is basically a parade for Paizo's past. It really feels like everything is bent and twisted to make it fit this premise, which doesn't allow it to stand on its own. There's a weird "planning meeting" just to ensure a specific thing happens, a character pops up and shows how cool they are, and lots of references to this location from an old, old AP. Way too much time went into these parts and not enough into the rest of the scenario. The villain's motivation and backstory is basically unknown, combat encounters feel off, and half of the locations on the maps are unused because they're not relevant to the plot.

A small rant on the combat encounters. It feels like this scenario was originally meant for a lower tier and then just scaled up, without much thought put into them. Level 0 creatures in tier 3-4? Why? Most of them honestly feel like they come from a spicy 1-2 tier, rather than a normal 3-4. Enemies have ridiculously low HP and AC, and the author's fix to higher CP is to just throw more at the players, rather than beefing up the existing creatures. More mooks does not make a fight more interesting if they can barely damage the players.

Running it was surprisingly fun, though. There's some cool moments in here, if you can overlook the previous complaints. It might be better on the player side, but as a GM, I was disappointed.

I don't know how to rate this. As I said, my players and I had fun, but I think there's enough bad stuff under the surface that I can't completely recommend this scenario.


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Feels bare-bones from a GM perspective.

3/5

(I GMed this.)

Okay, yes, the secondary prestige condition sucks. It's not great.

With that out of the way, this scenario starts strong, but by the halfway mark, loses a lot of steam. It feels a bit to me, as a GM, as if it missed a bit of polish. Especially the second half is mostly empty rooms with a skill challenge. I found it difficult to make engaging. Luckily my players rolled with it and had fun.

I like the roleplay encounter in the middle. It allows for some cool imagery and creativity from the players.

All in all, I'd rate this three stars as-is. A good GM might elevate it to four, but it certainly has the potential to fall flat, I feel.


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-1 star as a repeatable.

4/5

(I GMed this.)

I really like this scenario. It has a lot of cool moments that make you excited to have played it. There's a nice mix of combats and a bit of roleplay, and cool setpiece moments that make use of the environment you're in. Might even be five stars for me.

One downside is that I honestly find the repeatable aspect a bit lacking. There's a little bit of variety, but if you've played this twice, you've literally seen everything. That doesn't scream "repeatable" to me.

A thing I really liked though is the fact that underwater combat is less of a headache than in PF1. The Society even provides some basic means to mitigate most of the downsides of it, so that's a feel-good moment.


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Not a fan of the structure, but otherwise a solid scenario.

4/5

(I played this.)

In all honesty, I don't like adventures like this. It's mostly the storyline that feels like three separate miniquests glued together, with only the location tying them together. It feels more like busywork than an actual adventure. I did like the diplomacy-part being split among two groups, so you can't just let one person do all the talking. That was a neat little thing, IMHO.

The location feels a bit odd, suddenly being on Arcadia without much fanfare, and honestly, not much is done with it. Like another reviewer said, this feels like it could've taken place anywhere. But I guess it advances Sveinn Blood-Eagle's plot, which will become relevant later.

Combats felt pretty good. While not super exciting, they offered a surprising challenge, so props for that.

Overall, while I don't really like the structure of this adventure, I really can't find any faults in it. I'm not super excited by it, but it does what it set out to do really well. I just wish the location was explored a bit more.


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A nice conclusion to the series.

4/5

(I played this.)

After the mediocre start of this series, it luckily ended on a strong note. While there are some flaws in this scenario, it also has enough high points that I overall judge it as a positive experience.

The story is a bit flat, especially as the capstone of this series, but that's compensated by good exploration. Maybe it's just good improvisation on the GM's part, but we had the feeling that the writer encouraged out-of-the-box approaches, which is nice. The combats weren't too special, but they also weren't bad or out of balance. We also got a surprisingly capable NPC who tagged along with us, which is a nice touch.

Story spoiler:
Two things I don't like are:
- How entirely one-dimensional the boss is. It's almost comical how '80s action movie evil he is.
- While the blurb says you're supposed to discover who is funding these experiments, the scenario basically spells it out for you in the opening box text, and you're just sent out to collect evidence. Our GM left that out and let us stumble upon that ourselves, which felt much more satisfying (granted, if you've played the previous parts, you're guaranteed to know this, but as an overall story arc it just feels right to nail him with this).

Overall, I would say this is a mediocre adventure, but it has just enough nice touches to make it actually worth playing.


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Not quite a hit.

2/5

(I GMed this.)

While it seems promising, the adventure didn't really come together like I wanted to. There's a bit about making this either a horror scenario or a light-hearted romp, but it really isn't scary enough. There just isn't a feeling of dread present, I feel. While some encounters were pretty fun, the "boss," while thematically appropriate, just didn't feel connected to the place. Individual setpieces were pretty fun, they just didn't form a cohesive whole, I feel. Though maybe it's just a failing of me as a GM. Your mileage may vary.


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Much better than the two previous instalments in this series.

4/5

(I played this.)

Note: I am good friends with the author, so I might be biased. I'll try to not let that influence my review, but just so you know.

This scenario has a lot of good things the previous scenarios in the series lacked. Good enemies, interesting environments, a general cohesion in the story, and one or two cool watercooler moments. Though the enemies aren't exotic, they do what they're supposed to do. Even the vehicle part was well worked out and felt exciting

It's not spectacular by any means, but it's a very solid scenario. Certainly better than the lacklustre previous two in this series. I'm doubting between giving it three or four stars, but since I gave the previous scenarios in the series three stars, I'll rate this four stars.


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Feels safe ande by-the-book.

3/5

(I played this.)

Title says everything. It really feels like a scenario summary was handed to the author, who proceeded to deliver exactly that and nothing more. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad scenario by any means, but it just feels... safe. No especially spicy combats, difficult skill challenges, or memorable story. Not that every scenario needs to be a five-star thrill-ride, but I just want to point out that this feels... formulaic. I found the monster on the cover to be pretty interesting as far as combats go, so that's a plus.

All in all, decent adventure. Nothing especially noteworthy, but also not as bad as other scenarios I've played.


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Great variety in fights, but the story's familiar by now.

3/5

(I played this.)

Seems like every year we're going to get a Zo! adventure, and while it still has enough flair to carry the story, the formula's getting a bit stale. Especially now that it's back-to-back combats without any skill challenges in between.

That said, this is a repeatable, and I must say that the random elements do keep it fresh. I had a quick peek and there's quite a bit of variety between enemies and random hazards. Some are more interesting than others, but there's certainly a variety of cool things to fight.

Four stars for the repeatable content, two stars for story and lack of skill challenges.


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Could've used a bit more content.

3/5

(I GMed this.)

From a GM perspective, this could use some work. There's a whole lot of descriptive text and flavour text that could either have been regular box text, or gone to actually fleshing out the scenario more. Several paragraphs are in this in-between state of being descriptive while not being actually helpful.

From a player perspective, it feels more like three separate mini-missions that are only loosely tied together. There's an overarching plot, but it's really one-and-done that's probably all just setup for a next adventure, without any satisfying conclusion of its own.

The combats and skill challenges feel fine. Nothing spectacular, but also nothing really bad. There's some fun creatures in here. It also ran pretty fast, but that might just have been because of a four-player party.


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Not as bad as others make it out to be.

3/5

(I played this.)

There are some rough patches in this scenario, not going to lie. And honestly, we avoided some of those by clever thinking and good luck. But even without that, I don't think I'd rate it as low as others do. Yes, there are some weird things such as sounds and smells in a vacuum. Some things happen just for the sake of plot. But I can overlook that. Maybe a bit immersion-breaking, but not a total negative. Yes, that one encounter is maybe a bit ridiculous, but not to the level others make it out to be.

Encounter spoiler:
There are two area traps and a swarm. When we played it and none of us had anti-swarm weapons, the GM pointed out that you can lure it repeatedly into the trap and damage it that way. But even with that said, I don't think it shouldn't have been necessary. For a "beginner-friendly scenario," there is absolutely nothing to prepare you for it. No loot drop or warning whatsoever. I can see people getting stuck here.

Other than that, I found it pretty enjoyable. I don't really see how it's "beginner-friendly," though, but that could be just me. Showing you several hazards without giving you any methods of dealing with them isn't beginner-friendly. Anyway, other than that, it's a decent scenario. Nothing mind-blowing, but also not as egregious as others make it seem.


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Great scenario with fantastic eye to detail.

5/5

(I GMed this.)

A great scenario that sets a good atmosphere. Nice creepy elements that convey the "wrongness" well. I'm also a big fan of the humour injected in this scenario, but it nearly overdoes it. We all had a few good laughs here and there, and it was great.

Combat-wise, I can't really judge. We had a level 3 with three level 1s, so that skewed things to the easier side. I can see things going wrong, however, especially after a failed save or two.

The creative final fight felt great. There are truly several ways to solve this, which is great. I'm slightly miffed that you only get full treasure if you do the nonviolent route, though. I know it promotes being kind, but I'd rather be penalised by missing normal checks, rather than by taking the "wrong" approach. Besides, if the dice fall bad on the "right" approach, you're still penalised anyway. I don't want bad party composition also be a factor in rewards. This doesn't impact my final score, just something I'd like to share with the devs.

Also, Jaldan is a great character. I'd love to see her return. I love her affection and enthusiasm.


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Way overwrought final combat.

3/5

(I played this.)

What the previous reviewer said about half of the plot being a big coincidence is true, but a bit unfair, IMHO. There's been lots of Path-/Starfinder scenarios that have ended up like that. That doesn't excuse it, of course, but I personally don't find it that much of a detriment to the story.

The majority feels like a good exploration. The NPC is fun to interact with, and the challenges and combats are interesting. No complaints there. I do have a big complaint about the final encounter, though.

Final encounter:
There's way too much going on in the final encounter. My GM, a fairly experienced player, forgot or missed several things, purely because there are several conditions overlapping and happening at once. Two NPCs fighting along, mooks that have a "save every round"-effect, a constant Blur on the boss, and like three or four stage hazards. That's just hostile writing, apart from being an administrative nightmare. I am docking points for this, purely because it's such a headache for players and GM alike.

This scenario is fun. Larry Wilhelm is one of my favourite authors and he usually manages to write imaginative setpieces. This scenario certainly isn't different. But just the absolute misery of that final boss put it down a few notches for me. I'm sorry, Larry.


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Great action, meh mechanics.

2/5

(I played this.)

This scenario feels like a whole bunch of missed opportunities. Individual things aren't so bad, but they pile up quick and compound each other. I'll explain more in spoilers. The good thing though is that when the scenario gets going, it really gets going. My GM did some fun voices that really heightened the experience of being in a ridiculous action movie. Sadly, that's where things start to fall apart.

The negatives:

OH GOD THE DCs. Initially I felt kind of bad for playing down with my skill monkey, because I tend to steal the thunder from other players. Nope. It was quickly apparent the DCs were ridiculous and we needed all the cheese we could get. My character was pretty much near the max of what I could get at my level at certain skills and even then I needed several assists to reasonably make some skill checks. And again, I was playing down (level 9 in tier 7-8). Our level 7 Operative could barely make those skills. If an Operative, the notorious "great at everything" class, has trouble succeeding, what chance do other classes have?

Related to that, all those difficult checks were tied to the same skill. Granted, it's a pretty common skill, but again, if you don't have a specialist in that skill, you're just out of luck. We had two party members (out of 4) just picking their nose half of the scenario, since they just couldn't help in any way. I think a nice spread of skills would've allowed more people to be able to help, or at least increase the chance of someone being specialised in one of those skills. But nope, it's all eggs in the same basket.

That's the technical side of this scenario. On the more structural/narrative side, things falter as well. One of the players looked up the author of this scenario, and it turns out she's mostly worked on Bestiary entries and supporting material for APs. Her adventure writing are limited to a season 4 Pathfinder 1 scenario (one I really liked, to be honest), and two APs in the last year of PF1 and the beginning of PF2 (neither of which I've played, both of which only got so-so reviews, from what I've gathered). And it looks like she's been thrown into the deep end without proper guidance or training in scenario writing. It really looks like a premise was given, but never got really fleshed out. It's like the scenario outline was "We want Horizon Zero Dawn meets Pacific Rim," without explaining anything else. The box text "cutscenes" were absolutely amazing. But as soon as control is handed back to the players, we just get to do some basic stuff that's not at all exciting. Giant monsters clash with each other, but we just make a single skill check to enter and escape.

Okay, I'm totally gonna judge a book by its cover here, but for a scenario called "Colossus Heist," there was very little heisting going on. I expected an Ocean's Eleven-style setup of infiltrating, blending in, and getting out unnoticed. But no, once you're in (again, single check, not a chase or sequence of events), it's just some combats versus creatures that sorta-but-not-really make sense to be here, and identification. No sneaking around, multi-stage plan, or blending in. Nope. Big room with monsters. That's it. That's not a heist, that's a break-in.

Oh, and the "finding out who's behind this"-part. Only the tiniest hint of who's behind it, and even that is a leap of logic. And the things we're asked to retrieve are total MacGuffins as well. We don't know (and can't know) what they do, and they're just randomly lying about everywhere. Story-wise, I felt like I've achieved nothing here.

I think it comes down to the author, again. She's shown skill in writing, but not necessarily in adventure writing. She puts down some great setpieces, don't get me wrong, but the finer details just aren't there. Why let a relatively inexperienced scenario author write such a high-level scenario?

One positive thing I have to mention:

I did like how there was no "boss encounter," but this was all an endurance race. We shouldn't be getting these too often, but it was a nice twist I appreciated.

On a purely entertainment level, I was certainly amused. The setpieces in my head were great. Just too bad the nitty-gritty details just fell apart. I'm really torn between two and three stars. I'm going to give it two stars, just because the insane DCs will sour the experience for a lot of players.


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Unusually mean to low-tier players.

2/5

(I played this.)

I feel the appreciation of this scenario, more than most, will depend on your party makeup. Keep this in mind while reading the rest of this review. I played this with a level 2 Mystic (me), a level 1 Mechanic (Exocortex), a level 2 Technomancer, and a level 1 Obozaya pregen. Part of this review will also be an after-action report to understand my grievances.

This scenario was really frustrating to play. I mean, it kinda made sense from a narrative point of view, but from the player point of view it was a slog to get through. I can't say more without spoiling things.

Mild scenario spoilers:
Taking away weapons I get. Standard security thing. But having to fight unarmed is really difficult. There aren't enough spellcasting classes that can fight unarmed and natural weapons also aren't that common. We had to make do with Obozaya's 1d3+3, Telekinetic Projectile, and the few Magic Missiles we had. One party member was scurrying away to get the weapons, but it took so long that we managed to finish the fight without them.

The second fight was also unreasonably tough, IMHO. Even with four-player adjustments, the enemies packed quite a punch and I was on healing duty constantly. The GM had to fudge a little to let us live, but at the end of combat, our combined HP total could be counted on a single hand. A TPK was very likely, and it didn't even feel like it was our fault. The enemies just had too high a to hit and damage output for a low-level party.

After this part, the Technomancer and Mystic were out of spells, so we had to rely on the Mechanic and Obozaya for damage output. We were also through half our Resolve Points and nearly all our healing items.

Then we encountered a trap that ate a lot of Stamina as well. Pretty much everything was trapped and was purely a resource drain, but we managed to avoid that with some clever thinking. What's worse, the traps are very hard to see, and (as far as I know) impossible to disable. More Resolve down the drain. Obozaya had no Resolve anymore and already out of Stamina. So now we have a Soldier without Resolve and Stamina, and two spellcasters without spells. And then we triggered the final combat.

Obozaya went down and died after the first round, then it was a mad scramble to stay alive, somehow. We managed to win purely because we hit the morale threshold. If we didn't, we would have died next round. Again, this combat involved enemies with too high a damage output, and four-player adjustment didn't really help either.

The entire scenario felt like a resource drain of the worst kind. Enemies hit harder than they should and are immune to several things players can bring to the table, weapons are taken away and you're forced to improvise, and the environment is unreasonably hostile. Halfway through, this went from "challenging" to "frustrating" without letting up.

Again, this is all very subjective. A different party may go through this very differently and have a better experience. I'm just reporting mine. And it it saying not to recommend this scenario.


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Not that bad if you're forewarned, but still not great.

2/5

(I played this.)

In all honesty, I can see why people are divided about this scenario. It has many feel-bad moments in it. I like what the scenario's trying to do, but not how it's doing it. I need to go into spoiler territory, I'm afraid.

Many spoilers:
First off, I'm not a big fan of the mechanics of the monster. It appears without warning, and the scenario doesn't hint at how to handle it. Right now, only identifying it (and one datapad) will give information, but identifying it in the first place is nearly impossible. There certainly are some tricks to level the playing field, but those aren't telegraphed properly. A good scary monster should have identifiable weaknesses to exploit. Here they're present, but only through specific actions you can get to know them. Actions that aren't necessarily obvious.
I like that it has some advantages over the players. It gives it some extra scare, without directly cheating. But some abilities just make it feel like an unwinnable situation.
I dislike how the dungeon can be a death-trap for several characters, without it it being their fault. Okay, I can get behind death through sheer bad luck, but I can imagine how some characters will die through no fault of their own. There is a way to loop around the dungeon, but that's only available to small creatures and lightly armoured characters. While the game system encourages, heavy armour. Right now Soldiers are the only class who are naturally proficient with heavy armour, but I see a lot of them running around. Chances are, they'll get driven into a corner and pounded to a pulp. That just feels unfair.

Someone at my table said it best. This scenario could work in a home game where the GM is aware of their party's capabilities and can tweak where necessary. But in a Society game, that's impossible. I can guarantee that even in a best-case scenario, it'll leave some players with a sour taste in their mouth afterwards.

I'm not as down on this scenario as other people, but I still don't like this very much. Only play this one if you know what you're getting into.


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Great scenario.

4/5

(I played this.)

This scenario is great. It's a bit heavy on the lore and hand-holdy, that's why it loses a star from me, but overall I have no big negatives. You come across a lot of strange things, which is wonderful, but becomes a bit fatiguing as you're trying to wrap your head around more and more events and NPCs. I was prepared for a more social scenario, but a lot of it was more "you go here, meet this person, get shoved to the next location." The whole scenario felt like it was on a moving walkway, rather than going at our desired pace. It went by just a little faster than I was comfortable with.

That said, it certainly isn't a bad scenario. I agree with a lot of the five-star reviews. I just think there's just a little too much content for your average PFS scenario.


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Fun, but a little underwhelming

3/5

(I GMed this.)

This module shows its age. It's not a bad module by any means, but it clearly doesn't stand up to today's level of quality. This is mainly in regards to combats. Granted, I played with a party of 6, on the high end of the level requirement, but most combats were almost not even worth bothering with. If you're going to play this, play it with 4 characters. Likewise, skill checks seem mostly trivial, except for a handful that are stupidly difficult. More balance would've been appreciated.

That aside, the atmosphere of this module was great. As the GM, I enjoyed conveying it, though I don't know how the players felt about it. The story is perhaps on the predictable side, but exploring the island was a fun experience in how alien everything is. I hope I did everything justice.
As other people have noticed, some more direction would've been useful. My players were roaming around with no clear objective until they came upon the key location that made everything clear.

All in all, I had fun running this. It might not have been the best it could've been, but it's certainly not a bad module.


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Just plain boring.

2/5

(I GMed this, and I have to admit I made a mistake in the mechanics that led to some negative play experience. Keep that in mind when reading this review. I'll try adjusting my experience for the positive, but it might still colour my review.)

This is a disappointment. As a player on my table said, you have a legacy like Rats of Round Mountain to follow up on, and you do it with this? Some of this will be spoilers (and appropriately tagged), while others complaints are spoiler-free.

The premise is great. Having to work and communicate with other Pathfinder for a bigger mission is a great set-up. Sadly, none of it pays off. You get communication tools, but they won't be of any use, and you get trading goods to negotiate with, but it's never referred to again, nor does it give a bonus on anything. Either the author had some ideas with them that got edited out, or never had them in the first place.

The whole idea is that your party spends time exploring and interacting with their environment and making checks, but never give a description of the results. Either the GM has to make up all the descriptions on their own, or just skip over them. There is no roleplay involved in any of it. Most of them are just, "look around, find samples." At some point, it just becomes a slog. About half of the scenario is just walking around and making checks, with no real input from the players and also no output from the GM.

Combats make no sense, either. There's mechanical things walking around (as seen on the cover, so no spoiler), while all entrances are supposed to be guarded, and a few undead roaming around a heavily-used lake while the inhabitants pass it off as a "haunting."

Spoiler:
The skill checks are ridiculous. The DCs are stupidly low. I made the mistake of eventually telling my players what the DCs were, which put them at ease, but whichever skill they tried, they automatically made it. At some point, I just got tired of them rolling and said they didn't need to bother anymore, and they just boggled at how low that check was.
So yeah, maybe my party was just lucky with their composition. PFS is supposed to be for everyone, and you can't guarantee that whatever is called for, you'll have in your party. But I did some calculations, and anyone with only a minimal to moderate investment in those skills (most of them aren't even that unusual to invest in) will make that check most of the time. If you have any INT-based character in your party, or just a skillmonkey, you'll crush this scenario. And conversely, if you have none of those skills trained, you're just plain useless and will fail the scenario. Either make it (or at least some of the checks) hard so that specialists can feel important, or don't bother at all. In-between is the absolute worst place to be.

In short, this scenario actively wastes your time. Story has potential but doesn't live up to it or makes no sense at all, combats are nonsenical (though pretty decent), the timeframe is too generous, and the skill challenges are laughable. I barely see any redeeming quality in this at all. I wanted to give it one star, but due to my mess-up I'll add a second, just to be on the safe side.


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Good for a Quest, but overall pretty poor.

3/5

(I played this. Also, my GM was a bit brain-fried due to the heat, that might influence this review.)

I like what the scenario is trying to do, but I hate how it does it. First off, the good part. Making four Quests instead of five allows for more narrative per quest. In the old quests, you had one combat, a handful of skill checks, and that's it. Now there's an actual narrative arc in each quest, with more skill checks to be made across several smaller scenes. That negates the "one and done" feel of older Quests.

The bad news is... The story doesn't deliver. I can't talk about this without spoiling, so...

Spoiler:
The blurb (and the title, even) promises to reveal a big secret, but that's probably all a big setup for later in the season, or maybe even PF2. You learn THAT there is a cover-up, but not what that entails. I feel like I've accomplished nothing during this scenario. That's a terrible feeling to have.
I feel like if this scenario was advertised differently, I would've enjoyed it more, but now it just ends on an unsatisfying cliffhanger, without any payoff.

Aside from that, the GM was constantly muttering about bad editing, even worse than usual. I haven't seen it for myself, but he was flipping back and forth constantly to find the necessary information.

Overall, I liked this scenario for its mechanical execution, but as a narrative experience, I feel it fails to deliver what it promises. If you just want to roll dice and have a good time, this will certainly be it, but if you're into stories, meh.


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